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Gavin and Sara Aquino
Gavin and Sara Aquino of Atlantic Portable X-Ray earned $40,000 in the 20th round of Salisbury University's Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Shore Hatchery entrepreneurship competition.

Atlantic Portable X-Ray Takes Top Prize in Spring Ratcliffe Foundation Shore Hatchery Competition

SALISBURY, MD---For patients who are elderly, are bedridden or have autoimmune diseases, going to a hospital or immediate care facility for X-rays can be an arduous, scary and sometimes life-threatening experience.

Add to that the continuing growth of the 65-and-older community segment on the Delmarva Peninsula, as noted by Salisbury University’s Business, Economic and Community Outreach Network (BEACON), and the need for expanded medical services becomes apparent.

Enter Atlantic Portable X-Ray. Founded by husband and wife Gavin and Sara Aquino in Ocean City, MD, the company provides at-home X-ray service to residents and facilities on the Lower Eastern Shore and Sussex County, DE, with a turnaround time of one hour or less.
Judges in the 20th round of Salisbury University’s Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation Shore Hatchery entrepreneurship competition recognized the void filled by the Aquinos’ business, presenting it with one of the largest single-year funding amounts in the program’s history: $40,000.

That total represented nearly half of the prize pool for this spring’s competition, with 13 competitors, held at SU’s Dave and Patsy Rommel Center for Entrepreneurship in downtown Salisbury.

The event also garnered one of the competition’s youngest winners in 14-year-old Ronen Poddar, who impressed judges with his plan for a line of comic book-based travel guides for children. He earned $10,000 to help implement the idea.

Other winners included:

  • An Optical Galleria – Niki Pino: This optical retail store and eye care company, with three established locations on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, received funding to improve the manufacturing process for its HOOK Optics line of polarized sports sunglasses targeted to the fishing industry - $15,000
  • BrickRose Exchange – Bianca Jackson: Based in Baltimore, this startup aims to transform the live and virtual event industry through cutting-edge technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, and artificial intelligence - $10,000
  • Breathe Interiors – Jessica McCarthy: Located in downtown Salisbury, this store focuses on nature-inspired gifts and décor, with many products made by local artisans - $7,000
  • Coordle, Inc. – Dr. Jen Fry: The Baltimore-based team behind this app hopes to provide a more intuitive platform to help those who manage group travel better coordinate information, payments, communication and logistics - $5,000
  • Friendly Goods Co. – Sam Shoge: This family-owned company in Chestertown, MD, creates small-batch, handmade products with natural ingredients - $5,000
  • Driven Physiotherapy – Dr. Kate James: This Salisbury practice specializes in performance-based physical therapy and programming for endurance athletes, with a mobile clinic serving coastal Delaware - $5,000
  • Lightwork Enterprise – Shannon Collins: Based in Mitchellville, MD, Lightwork provides workforce development technology, services and programs for private and public schools and youth-based, non-profit organizations - $3,000

In addition to funding, winners and participants also receive mentoring support from the program’s board. Mentors include business leaders such as Chris Perdue of Perdue Farms, Inc.; Mike Cottingham of the Rommel Companies; Kathy Kiernan and Patricia Royak, members of SU’s Franklin P. Perdue School of Business Executive Advisory Council; and Jennifer Layton of Layton’s Chance Vineyard and Winery.

This round’s winners join the program’s 100 previous award recipients, who have self-reported estimated profits of some $98 million, creating 678 jobs.

“This competition was fierce,” said Carlene Cassidy, Ratcliffe Foundation CEO, adding that, whether the business startups selected to participate won or lost, “This is a stepping stone in your journey. The people in this room are here to help you.”

Most importantly, she added: “Remember to have fun.”

The event marked the final Ratcliffe Foundation Shore Hatchery competition under the leadership of William Burke, SU executive director of entrepreneurship, who worked with the foundation to create the program and guided its first decade.

University representatives and others, including Drs. Christy Weer, dean of SU’s Franklin P. Perdue School of Business, and Karen Olmstead, SU provost and senior vice president of academic affairs, wished him the best as he prepared to step down from the position. (He will continue to serve as a professor of practice in the Perdue School’s Information and Decision Sciences Department.)

“Bill made this incredible program that we have,” said Olmstead. “He built a network that will continue to serve entrepreneurs throughout the region.”

The Ratcliffe Foundation Shore Hatchery program was established with an initial $1 million contribution in 2013. In 2017, the Ratcliffe Foundation announced a second $1 million gift to continue the Shore Hatchery through this spring, followed by the recent announcement of an additional $900,000 to maintain the program through at least 2026.

Administered by the Perdue School, its goal is to fund entrepreneurs and have new businesses opening within six months, with the potential of employing three or more within three years.

Up to $200,000 annually is available for those applying for grants through the Shore Hatchery program. Its board of directors selects recipients based on presentations. All competitors have the opportunity to meet with SU’s team at the Rommel Center for Entrepreneurship to discuss resources available to support their businesses.

For more information call 410-546-4325 or visit the Ratcliffe Shore Hatchery webpage.

Learn more about opportunities to Make Tomorrow Yours at the SU website.